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Plateau Grass and Greenhouse Flower? Distinct Genetic Basis of Closely Related Toad Tadpoles Respectively Adapted to High Altitude and Karst Caves

by Liming Chang 1,2,†, Wei Zhu 1,†, Shengchao Shi 1,2, Meihua Zhang 1,2, Jianping Jiang 1,*, Cheng Li 1, Feng Xie 1 and Bin Wang 1,*
1
CAS Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization & Ecological Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors have contributed equally to this work.
Genes 2020, 11(2), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11020123
Received: 1 December 2019 / Revised: 3 January 2020 / Accepted: 19 January 2020 / Published: 22 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
Genetic adaptation to extremes is a fascinating topic. Nevertheless, few studies have explored the genetic adaptation of closely related species respectively inhabiting distinct extremes. With deep transcriptome sequencing, we attempt to detect the genetic architectures of tadpoles of five closely related toad species adapted to the Tibetan Plateau, middle-altitude mountains and karst caves. Molecular evolution analyses indicated that not only the number of fast evolving genes (FEGs), but also the functioning coverage of FEGs, increased with elevation. Enrichment analyses correspondingly revealed that the highland species had most of the FEGs involved in high-elevation adaptation, for example, amino acid substitutions of XRCC6 in its binding domains might improve the capacity of DNA repair of the toad. Yet, few FEGs and positively selected genes (PSGs) involved in high-elevation adaptation were identified in the cave species, and none of which potentially contributed to cave adaptation. Accordingly, it is speculated that in the closely related toad tadpoles, genetic selection pressures increased with elevation, and cave adaptation was most likely derived from other factors (e.g., gene loss, pseudogenization or deletion), which could not be detected by our analyses. The findings supply a foundation for understanding the genetic adaptations of amphibians inhabiting extremes. View Full-Text
Keywords: genetic adaptation; positively selected gene; fast evolving gene; high elevation; karst cave; environmental gradient genetic adaptation; positively selected gene; fast evolving gene; high elevation; karst cave; environmental gradient
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chang, L.; Zhu, W.; Shi, S.; Zhang, M.; Jiang, J.; Li, C.; Xie, F.; Wang, B. Plateau Grass and Greenhouse Flower? Distinct Genetic Basis of Closely Related Toad Tadpoles Respectively Adapted to High Altitude and Karst Caves. Genes 2020, 11, 123.

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